Why Is Employee Recognition Important?
Surveys have shown that 69% of employees say they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. The best employee recognition programs address employee wants and needs and align with company values. In turn, they can have a positive impact on your organization’s bottom line.
The message is loud and clear: Employee recognition impacts more than employees—it affects the entire organization. Receiving a certificate once a year no longer cuts it.
So, what does a successful employee appreciation program look like?
Each company is different. What works for one organization might not work for another. However, generally speaking, recognition programs should be comprehensive and feedback should be authentic, relevant, and specific.
12 Mind-Blowing Stats on Employee Recognition You Need to Know
Employee recognition isn’t a fad. It’s a must-have for organizations that value employee engagement and retention. When you think about it, a company’s recognition program can either lock people in or push them out the door.
Going even deeper into the issue, showing appreciation for employees can actually drive your financial returns through the roof. Better productivity, customer service, and product development are just some of the outcomes of employees feeling valued.
Here are 12 more eye-opening facts about recognition that will most likely surprise you:
01. 87% of recognition programs focus on tenure
Having an employee stick around for 20, 10, or even 5 years is something to celebrate — there’s no doubt about that. But it shouldn’t be the only thing that should be celebrated about the person. Can you imagine going a full year without receiving any type of recognition? Well, that’s what you’re doing when you focus only on tenure.
Recognition should focus on an employee’s contributions and efforts. If they’ve done a great job, let them know on the spot. Just because someone’s stuck around for who-knows-how-long and has been as productive as a lump of coal in a chair, then does this person truly deserve the recognition?
02. The number one type of recognition that organizations have in place is for recognizing years of service
This stat goes hand in hand with the one above. However, this report released in 2014 by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median tenure of workers age 55 to 64 is 10.4 years. When it came to workers age 25 to 34, that number drastically dropped to 3 years.
So if typical recognition awards celebrate five years of service, then a majority of the millennial workforce are going unrecognized for their contributions.
03. US organizations spend over $100 billion annually on incentive programs
Gift cards and micro bonuses are great and all, but did you know that saying a simple thank-you is completely free? You don’t need to spend a ton of money to make your employees feel appreciated. Just say it and instead save that money for a fun team-building activity or lunch outing.
04. When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied “give recognition”
By now, it’s a well-known fact that employees aren’t feeling valued at work. And honestly, there really is no such thing as “too much recognition.” If you really want to keep your employees, motivate them through recognition. That simple validation has the power to drive productivity through the roof.
05. Millennials require immediate recognition for accomplishments
If you wait a week or so to give recognition, your employee may have already forgotten what they did. Time is of the essence when it comes to showing gratitude. Let them know now instead of later because that extra bit of morale boost does wonders for your bottom line.
06. 70% of employees feel that gamification would not be a positive addition to recognition
Organizations are handing out points to people as a form of recognition. And those points are displayed on a leaderboard that stacks employees up against each other.
As fun as it may be to have friendly competition at the workplace, it can be somewhat demoralizing to those employees at the bottom of the board. Or even worse, those hungry to make it in the top rankings may even resort to sabotaging coworkers in order to receive those extra brownie points.
So if you’re looking into tying recognition to points, make it a personal objective. Let employees accumulate points and treat themselves to a free lunch or something along those lines.
07. 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated
Recognition drives productivity. Think about it: back in grade school, teachers rewarded students with a gold star for their great work. And that, in return, pushed students to work even harder to get those shining stickers. Who’s to say that doesn’t work for adults?
People want to get recognized for their contributions. They want their work to have meaning. And when you are slacking on recognition, it’s essentially the same as ignoring their existence.
08. Only 14% of organizations provide managers with the necessary tools for rewards and recognition
According to our 2014 Employee Engagement Report, 44% of employees give peer-to-peer recognition when they have an easy tool to do so. However, only 14% of companies are supplying these tools.
Organizations aren’t providing the right tools for leaders to motivate their employees. And on the other hand, employees want to dish out recognition. The solution is pretty clear-cut — give people a peer-to-peer recognition tool. That way, both managers and employees can recognize each other.
09. 41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition have seen positive increases in customer satisfaction
When an employee hates their job, it really shows in their work. Now what happens when that work involves talking to customers?
The way an employee feels about their job can reflect in how they treat, speak to, or interact with customers. So it’s no surprise that when organizations leveraged peer-to-peer recognition, there was an increase in customer satisfaction. Employees started feeling more valued and were more willing to go the extra mile.
10. A full 14% [of companies] indicated that their organization features [recognition] programs regularly when recruiting
Want to snag top talent? Need to woo over that rock-star candidate with one more reason to join the company? Try recognition. People want to work at an organization that values its employees. They want to feel appreciated. And it’s understandable because that’s a part of human nature: the need to feel validated for our hard work.
11. Companies with recognition programs that are highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover
It’s been said over and over again — turnover is extremely expensive. So imagine losing all that money to recruitment, hiring, and training when, in fact, you could’ve just leveraged a recognition program to save you the hassle.
12. 50% of employees believe being thanked by managers not only improved their relationship but also built trust with their higher-ups
Manager-employee relationships are often stigmatized as being tense or full of resentment. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In order to drive success in the business, this relationship needs to be built on trust. And how can you gain that trust from employees? By showing gratitude. Appreciate them for their work. Recognition doesn’t have to come in the form of verbal confirmation. Even if you let your employee take free rein over a project, that’s showing recognition — you’re trusting them to do their job.
Recognition impacts various aspects of the workplace, from customer service to relationships. Organizations need to stop brushing it aside as a fluffy idea and think about the bottom-line benefits recognition has to offer. And since managers don’t have the opportunity to see the great happenings around the company, leverage peer-to-peer recognition so employees can high-five each other on a daily basis.
Creative and Sincere Employee Appreciation Ideas
01. Host a lunch drawing to highlight peer-to-peer recognition
Keep in mind that recognition doesn't always have to come from the top. In fact, peer-to-peer recognition is 35% more likely to have a positive impact on the employee experience than recognition from a manager alone.
Recognition at the employee level increases engagement and retention and boosts employee happiness.
If you have a peer-to-peer recognition program in place (which you should), throw your employee’s name into a hat each time they recognize one of their colleagues.
The more kudos they send, the higher chance their name will be chosen. At the end of the week, draw out two names from the hat and let those employees enjoy a meal on the company.
02. Recognize your star employees on social media
Take to your company’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to recognize your employees in a public setting.
Social recognition is a great way to share how proud you are of your employees. And it also helps build your employer brand by putting your culture and values on display for the world to see.
Employees who are recognized are likely to share social recognition posts with their followers, creating brand ambassadors< that represent your organization well.
When recognizing employees on your social channels, highlight who they are, their job role, what they’ve done to deserve recognition, and how it impacted the organization.
Be sure employees are aware of what you’re planning to share and are comfortable being recognized publicly first. Not everyone wants a place in the public spotlight. Some people prefer being praised behind closed doors!
03. Celebrate employee birthdays
One way to celebrate employees on their birthdays is simply allowing them to use the day off and enjoy it as they please.
If this is not currently a policy that works for your company, there’s still a chance to celebrate. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to recognize how important their presence and hard work is to the success of your team!
You can make a birthday celebration more personal by decorating an employee’s desk in a personalized theme—such as their favorite TV show, sports team, or country—or grabbing their favorite dessert.
Don’t forget the card! Have each of your team members write why they are thankful for the person you’re celebrating. These personal touches are more meaningful and can go a long way in making an employee feel recognized and appreciated.
For remote employees, record a video of everyone wishing them well, mail a cake and a thoughtful gift to their address, and share the love.
04. Recognize hard work with an off-site day
Sometimes teams just need a little change of scenery to help boost engagement and productivity. Plan an off-site day at a café, library, or any safe location that meets your team’s needs.
One important piece of employee recognition is to let employees know what they’re being recognized or appreciated for.
In the case of an off-site day, be sure you’re clear about the focus.
For example, are you hosting an off-site to help boost teamwork because you’ve got new team members or a big project coming up? Are your employees in the middle of a tough project?
Maybe an off-site is a way to celebrate the half-way mark and thank them for their great work so far.
05. Say it with a sticky note
A handwritten note can make a world of difference. Leave a handwritten note saying thank you and why you’re thanking them on a Post-It. Stick it on your employee’s desk so that when they come into work the next day, they arrive to a pleasant surprise.
Wondering where to start? Begin with one of these 50 compliments.
Be sure your message of gratitude is timely, specific to the employee’s action and impact, and tied back to your organization’s mission and values.
By recognizing employees for specific actions, you can promote repeated behaviors and encourage the growth of a strong company culture.